Let me just say that meal/food delivery services are a great thing, but some are way better than others in how they work. One of my coworkers set up a MealTrain for me. This is actually a pretty cool thing. My aunt had done this for a couple of people in her neighborhood before so I knew something of what it was beforehand. I wasn’t quite prepared for the implementation when it was me who needed one.
The way MealTrain is intended, someone sets up a calendar and invites people (friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.) to help out with meals for a period of time. It’s great for new parents, people who’ve had surgery (like myself) or are otherwise in need of some TLC support from family & friends like myself. Some people volunteer to make a home cooked meal and drop it off, or you can buy gift cards through Amazon Prime for food delivery, either from restaurants or grocery stores. It’s really pretty convenient at its face.
I got a combination of homemade meals, delivered meals and UberEats gift cards. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate that my coworkers are so generous and supportive.
What wasn’t as great was that my first mistake was probably using my work email address to set up my part of the MealTrain account rather than my personal address that is attached to my Amazon account. I’m not sure if that would have made it easier or not, but there’s nothing on the MealTrain website to tell me one way or the other if it would have made a difference. And that right there is my biggest problem with that site and service. There is next to nothing about what to do if you are a recipient. There is nothing about setting up your part of the account and there are no instructions about redeeming gift cards or if there are problems with any part of the service. When I emailed them about it, they told me it was Amazon’s problem because that’s how the gift cards are sold. Not helpful.
Luckily, I don’t really need much from them at this point, so hopefully, they’re working on getting some documentation together for people who are recipients like they promised.
In my case, most folks from my office donated gift cards for UberEats via MealTrain and Amazon. To be fair, there aren’t a lot of other choices on the MealTrain or the Amazon Gift Cards pages, so I’m not complaining. I’m about to start, though, so brace yourselves.
Let me just be up front and say that I am not a fan of Uber for a lot of reasons, so having to use them and reinstall their apps didn’t make me happy. However, seeing as other people very kindly and generously paid for the convenience of me ordering in after surgery so that neither I nor my caregivers had to figure out a meal around all of my recovery and appointments or go somewhere and pick it up ourselves, I decided to suck it up and work through it.
My first problem was finding out when I loaded the UberEats app was that the only way to add funds to it is by debit/credit card or PayPal. There are no options to add an UberEats gift card or Google Wallet. You would think that because the gift cards are specifically for UberEats you’d be able to load them. Nope. The only way to add a gift card is to add it to the Uber Rides app instead. Not exactly obvious or user-friendly.
Of course, adding the gift cards to the Rides app couldn’t be easy, either. When I tried to add the gift card code to the app, it gave me an error, so I opened a Support Ticket. They sent me a couple of emails telling me that they needed to bring in another team. When I responded to their mail 3 weeks later asking them for a status, I found the ticket was closed because I didn’t respond initially to a mail telling me to wait for an answer. Closed. Unresolved. No response. No help. Nothing. Silence. This is Uber.
I opened another ticket with Uber Support. They did finally give me an answer on how to add the gift cards to the Rides app. Once I added the cards to the app, it they transferred to the UberEats app where I could use them for food delivery.
I’m not horribly impressed with them as a service, either. First, the UberEats selection of restaurants is still pretty thin and tends to lean more toward fast food. Second, they base their delivery fees for some restaurants on whether or not they have drivers available in the area. So what this means is that if they have drivers swarming around the fast food places 10 miles away, the fee will be $2.99 or $3.99. If there’s no one near the fast food place that’s 5 miles away, the fee will be $19.99. Spoiler Alert: Other services don’t do this.
Lastly, delivery is a two-part problem with their delivery policy being one issue, and navigation being the other. Regardless of where they deliver, you have to go meet them outside. At home and at the office, this more or less works. At the hospital, a delivery would need to be planned and orchestrated a bit so that I could meet them outside the front of the hospital before my appointment. I’m not sure they can make that work. Of course, they have to be able to find you in the first place, which is their other problem. Their GPS/Navigation system just doesn’t get them where they need to be. This is more of an issue when they’re delivering to apartments and condos, which is where I live. I have yet to have a single driver find my unit and be anywhere near my building much less in front of my driveway. I’ve had to help their drivers navigate to me every single time. This gets old. On top of this, the UberEats app gives me no good way to contact the driver so I have to wait for them to call me and then direct them where they’re supposed to be. It might be my phone, but I think the ordering app is just not ready for prime time.
GrubHub is another service like DoorDash or UberEats. Unfortunately, in my area, there are only a handful – literally 5 – participating restaurants, and they’re not places I’d want to order from, so I can’t fairly compare how their service works compared to the other two.
Saving the Best for Last
While I was waiting for Uber and UberEats to respond to their support tickets, I started using DoorDash instead. I will say up front that I’m really loving DoorDash. They have a great selection of available restaurants near my home, my office, and all of the hospital facilities I’ve been to since starting to use the service.
One of the best things I’ve found with DoorDash is that they will bring my food directly to my doorstep, up to the office floor, or whichever Infusion Center room where I am on chemo day. That’s right. They find their way to wherever I am, and I’ve not once had to re-direct them because they were in the wrong place. That alone is enough to put them on the top of my happy list.
The fees are reasonable and it’s really easy to use. They often have offers of free delivery for new places or if your order totals over a certain amount, usually $15, for certain partners. There are also some places where you can put in an order and go pick it up yourself. The other thing I like is at checkout. During the checkout process, DoorDash will let you know that you could get a better deal on delivery if you order what might boil down to another entree, or sometimes just an appetizer or dessert. Also, while DoorDash has a set delivery fee, they give me the option to tip my driver. I think this is a good thing. UberEats doesn’t have this feature. However, with all the issues I’ve had with delivery, I’d be upset if I tipped them ahead of time.
The variety of places to order at DoorDash is also better than UberEats. While they have their fair share of fast-food type places, there are many more real restaurants to choose from that have a great variety of cuisine types to choose from – I can have Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, American, Burgers, pizza and even ice cream.
The only drawback I’ve found so far is there aren’t currently any options available to buy DoorDash gift cards. When I went to their site recently, they had a message that they were working on a new gift card program. Stay tuned.